Readers reveal: What not to do on Twitter

11 Jun 2012

The purpose of microblogging site Twitter is to share information in 140 characters, and all going well, that will be done without annoying or frustrating other Twitter users. Any frequent Twitter user will know, however, that pet peeves pertaining to the use of the social network will form. asked its readers on Twitter – what can’t you stand on Twitter? Here’s what they said, providing lessons on Twitter etiquette, if you will.

No tweets or rubbish tweets from high-profile people

There are high-profile individuals who have Twitter accounts and who don’t tweet at all or tweet rubbish, such as ‘Sounds great!’  ‘I’ll look into that!’ in response to other tweets. That’s it. People in high-profile positions likely (hopefully!) got there through talent and hard work, and their followers want to hear from them – how did they succeed, what makes them tick, what has grabbed their attention? Why have a Twitter account, otherwise?

Overuse of hashtags

#Using #hashtags #for #every #word #in #the #tweet #is #a #pain #in #the #arse

Hashtags need to make sense and be relevant, as well. Buzzwords and popular terms can just add noise to people’s search feeds, and too much noise is the main reason why people unfollow others on Twitter.

Location-only or food-only tweets

Unless you’re a fugitive or a chef, the general consensus is people couldn’t care less about where you are or what you’re eating. A tweet with a link to a photo of a dish you’ve spent hours working on or a tweet about having arrived at your dream destination, such as the Taj Mahal, is understandable – it’s an achievement. But constant ‘At Insomina’, ‘In bed’, or ‘Beef tartare, popover with parsley butter’ or ‘Eggs benedict and creamed spinach’ – just makes followers wonder what the point is behind such tweets.

Excessive retweeting readers do appreciate a bit of modesty, retweeters take note. Retweeting comments and/or compliments about yourself is, generally, a thumbs-down with many Twitter users. Like the saying goes, ‘self-praise is no praise’, and that seems to be particularly so on Twitter. Or as one reader put it, “self-praise – in person and online, it’s ugly.”

Keep the private stuff private

Don’t argue with someone, air your grievances with someone, or get too personal with someone on Twitter publically. Use the direct message feature, or just speak to the person offline, lest you want to risk making your followers squirm or vomit. 

Miscellaneous matters

Other changes readers would like to see Twitter users make is that in addition to an article’s title/headline, to include a link to the piece when sharing it with others so they can see for themselves what has caught your eye.

Twitter users will also appreciate giving credit where credit is due. Tweeting something from another source and putting via @yourownaccount and not the original source is not cool now, is it?

Lastly, moaning about a film or TV programme – for four hours – on Twitter is counterintuitive. If the film or programme was so bad, then why give it more publicity?

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic